Looking Back: I've Learned A Lot About Being An Author

Come October, it's been three years since I started doing this writing for a living gig. *bows* Thank you. How's it going? Well, I'm content with where I'm at although I've stumbled along the way.

There are dozens of things I wish I'd known three years ago, things about editing, about cover art, about reviews, and blogs, and promotion and it goes on and on.

When I started, I knew one thing.

The story I wanted to tell.

That's how easy I thought it would be. The story in mind would go onto the page and out into the world. I'd always been told, since elementary school that I had a natural gift for writing. My essays earned high scores and eloquent comments…

My favorite comment came from a college professor in a rhetoric class who wrote in red across the top of my essay, "Have you always written with such grace?"


I'm blushing now just thinking about how I felt seeing that and more than twenty years have passed.

I started out that October with all kinds of preconceived notions about how I would behave as an author.

Arrogant, selfish and rude weren't on my list.

But I've been accused of all of them at more than one point over the last three years. (Oddly enough, never to my face.) Many of things I thought I'd do, I've been forced to adapt over the years. Who knew that just thanking a reviewer was frowned upon? Three years ago I thought it was only polite to say thanks on every review I received, as I found them. Turns out that is just one of the things I've been wrong about. I wish someone had told me back then.

And maybe that guy who called me arrogant was right, because I think that there are things I've learned over the years that others might benefit from knowing. So consider this fair warning. I'm going share what I've learned. Bits and pieces of things I wish someone had told me along the way.

I’m not telling you what to do, or how to do it. I'm sharing what worked for me, and how I achieved a level of success that I am comfortable with.

Some of what I have to say may be common sense, some of it may seem controversial. You've no doubt seen some of it before. Some of it is so trivial that you're going to wonder why the hell I've even bothered to mention it.

Take for instance, this bit.

When you put yourself out there as an advocate for equality, you make fair-mindedness a part of your brand.
When you then make sarcastic or jocular remarks that show what a low opinion you actually hold of some groups, whether they are race, orientation, gender, or body-type based, you tarnish your brand.
Think about who you are as a writer and what you stand for.
Let that image be your guide.
I can't really believe in your tolerance and avowed stance that "love is love" when I skim the news feed and see your public statements that show me your prejudices.  
You think it's funny to denigrate someone based on a physical characteristic, to equate intelligence with appearance, or size, or socio-economic background.
It's not. Because the gay community you claim to support isn't just made of "gay".
It's made of rich, poor, middle class working folks. It's made of pretty, beautiful, austere, stark, angular, round folks. It's made of geniuses and artists, savants and average Joe's. It's made of models and writers and gas station attendants and doctors and lawyers and teachers and chefs…
So when you point at the one guy and laugh, and wave the rainbow flag in your other hand…
It doesn't really matter, does it?
If you're an orientation bigot or a size bigot…
It's all the same.

Think before you post.

Because I'm not just an author; I'm a reader, a teacher, a chef, a musician, an OCD bleach freak, a long haired hippie, a procrastinator, a Catholic, a friend, a lover, a spouse, a loner, a sibling… and I care about equality for everyone, and tolerance for everyone.

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Be Yourself

To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting. ~e.e. cummings, 1955